Where Are We Seeing Native Advertising?

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oday you can see examples of native advertising on many popular websites such as CNN.com, Huffington Post, The Onion, Fast Company, The New York Times and various local newspapers – as well as other popular online magazines and websites. The way you can spot native advertising is that it does not look like an advertisement or the old-fashioned advertorial. Instead it’s sponsored useful content that does not read as an advertisement but as useful content in and of itself that the audience will likely enjoy.

There are some experts who do not believe that sponsored posts are really native advertising. They consider them regular advertising. Copyblogger’s Demian Farnworth is one expert who defines native advertising as:

“… [P]aid content that matches a publication’s editorial standards while meeting the audience’s expectations.”

But Wikipedia defines native advertising as any advertising that appears within the context of the publisher’s website based on content that is sponsored by the publisher or promoted by the creator. In other words, the content is paid for in some way. In some cases “paid for” means that a brand might donate the product that is being featured in order to promote brand awareness instead of money exchanging hands.

CNN

 Many of CNN’s stories, especially when it has to do with a new product, a movie, or a star, is likely a form of native advertising done really, really well. Even if no money changes hands... if a brand is mentioned, it’s all about brand awareness, and you can be sure that the brand solicited the story in some way.

The Onion

This is a parody site that makes its money off ads and uses a lot of native advertising to do it. With The Onion, it can be really hard to know which articles are really advertisements in some way. But, there are all kinds of native advertising going on within The Onion including paid posts, sponsored posts, and donated product placement.

Buzzfeed 

They use native ads by having companies sponsor different stories that may or may not be about the brand. They also have content written by brands and promoted by brands. It’s a really good example of a website that uses many different forms of advertising very well. A good example is a post published by and promoted by ExxonMobile entitled “What Kind Of Engineer Should You Be?” This is very informative content for the reader, plus a line of tweets mentioning ExxonMobile to the right.

Cracked

This website gets most of its ad revenue from native advertising as most of the posts are created by and promoted by other publishers. Cracked works with brands to create sponsored content, unlike Buzzfeed which allows brands to create the content themselves. They prefer to create the content themselves in order to maintain their specific standards to create off the charts, funny, irreverent and awesome content.

Native advertising is an important way for brands to get their message out to the world, create brand awareness, and get more visitors to their own websites.

How Becoming an Author Can Increase Your Expert Status

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great way to become an expert in your niche is to become an author. Writing a book requires that you know something about your topic, and are able to communicate it in a cohesive way that makes sense to your audience. It’s one of the most tried and true ways of building up expertise status. It was an effective way to do it even before the internet, and the ease of publishing eBooks on Kindle and your website.

You Can Prove What You Know

Writing a book is a great little selling tool that consist of an easy to give away (or sell) package of information that you know. It's just all there; you put your knowledge in the book, and then you can prove that you have that knowledge because you were able to put that together for your audience.

You Have Something to Show for Your Efforts

Nothing is more satisfying than having that book with the cover showing your name bold on the front. It’s one reason people who are involved a great deal in education are encouraged and in some cases required to become published to prove what they know. Nothing works better than the process of writing a book to clarify what you know and believe.

Builds Your Credibility

You can shout from the rooftops that you’re an expert, and you may very well be. But, the book is proof that you have that knowledge. People respect it, and when they see that you're published they will believe that you have credibility, even if you self-publish. This is because you are willing to put that book out there, and take the criticism that goes with putting your ideas out into the public for comment.

You Can't Hide behind a Curtain as an Author

So many people want to hide behind their computers when working online or owning a digital business. But, as an author you need to come out of the closet and show who you really are. That's the real key to becoming an expert: being who you are, owning what you know, and showing the world.

A Book Will Increase Your Value

If you provide services, want to speak in public, or have great products, a book will increase your value exponentially. When people see you as an expert - and a book will help you accomplish that - they are willing to pay more money for your products, services and information. As your value increases you'll work less, and have more time to study more, write more and boost your expertise even more.

You'll Learn More Than You Know Now

As you write a book, you will collect a lot of information from other experts and from your own studies, and that will help you learn even more. You might even change your mind about something as you write your book. That's okay because that's what experts do. As they learn more, you know more, and you increase your expertise even more.

A Book Teaches You Communication

When you write a book, you have to put your audience first in your mind as you disseminate the information to them. This will give you a lot of practice thinking in terms of how your audience perceives what you write. You always have to write with your audience in mind so that they get what you're saying. It's always about them and how they communicate best.

A Book Gives You a Platform for All Your Other Offers

If you want a great platform in which to offer your services, expertise and ideas to others, then a book is the best way to do it. The book gives you an actual thing - whether it's digital or physical - to point your audience to when questions arise that are answered in the book.

Writing a book takes a lot of thought and planning. And if you put your best foot forward with writing it, direct it to your audience, and write what they need to know, you will advance yourself to expert status with every word.

Who Uses Native Advertising and How

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usinesses – from insurance companies to cleaning companies and many in between – use native advertising to make more sales and increase brand awareness. Whether you are a large or small business, you can participate in native advertising too. And you should, because it works very well to get the word out about your business. Here are examples of business who use native advertising, and how they do it.

  • Nestle TollhouseThis Buzzfeed post is a sponsored post that Nestle contracted someone to write and then promoted on Buzzfeed. This post is a list of easy to make recipes using ingredients from Nestle Tollhouse. It is both an advertisement for the brand and a useful post for cooks who want to make interesting treats.
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    Pixar MoviesThis video created by Cracked about why Pixar movies are secretly movies about the apocalypse, is made irreverently and hilariously and makes everyone want to watch the movies with a new eye.
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    Graduate Schools – This article about graduate schools with the richest alums is really a way to spread brand awareness about various graduate schools. The article is also informative in nature but secretly gets the point across about good grad schools to think of attending for you or your children.
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    Staples – This article was found through a link through The Atlantic online edition and is sponsored by Staples. It gives advice about the pros and cons of traditional and standing desks while promoting its own brand, since the article resides on their own website.
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    Walden University – On Facebook, Walden University has an advertisement that offers free information for anyone who wants to get an advanced degree. This ad appeared because the writer has searched for information regarding further education. This is called retargeting, and the fact that a sponsored post appears to the user who has searched for such information is smart.
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    Simple Green Smoothies – They are offering “Need a full body reset? Our FREE 1-day cleanse kit is a great way to get started right away. Learn how to boost your energy, shed some pounds and get glowing skin with a whole food lovin’ meal plan + shopping list.” They run this advertisement within the stream on Facebook to people who have shown interest in that topic. This gives more opportunity for someone to be interested.
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    Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance – This has a sponsored exclusive coupon that they promote on Twitter for Facebook fans. It’s a way to get more Facebook fans, but they promote it via Twitter. This is a good use of a sponsored post because it helps get more social media followers on the social media they want to use.

As you can see, the number and type of native ads that brands are using are many. This means that there is a place for your business to also use native advertising. The barriers to entry are really low when it comes to pushing out sponsored posts on Twitter and Facebook, and to use a system like Outbrain.com.

What Is Earned Media and How Does It Apply to My Business?

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here are three types of exposure available to marketers, namely “owned,” “paid” and “earned.” They are all important to the success of your business, but none is more important than earned media. Earned media is the best exposure you can hope for, and while you do not pay for it, and you cannot control it, you do earn it through your actions. Earned media is a far more trusted form of promotion than any other type of promotion because it is seen as truth.

Types of Earned Media

  • Social media – Someone posts about reading your eBook and how awesome and helpful it is to them, and shares a link to your eBook.
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    Reviews – Someone writes a product review on a third party website and links to your product.
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    Rating sites – Someone gives your website a rating on a third party website.
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    Word-of-mouth – Someone tells their friends about your products and provides the information needed for their friends to buy your product.
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    Press releases - You send out the press release, but third party websites for which you have no control run with the story.
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    Third party mentions – Unpaid third party bloggers write about your products, websites, or services without any payment whatsoever, including affiliate income.
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    Viral video – Even though you may own the video, once it goes viral it becomes earned media.
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    Viral infographics – Even though you created the infographic and are the first to distribute it, once it goes viral you no longer own what people do with it or say with it and it becomes earned media.
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    Viral blog post – You write it and share it, and then at the point it becomes viral and third parties are distributing, it becomes earned media.

As you can see, earned media can easily become confused with owned and paid media. But, if you can get it clear in your mind that earned media is information about your business that is created and distributed by third parties, then it’ll be easier to understand. The only exception is the case of information that goes viral.

Knowing this, you can somewhat direct the earned media that happens. You can direct it by providing excellent content that has a chance of going viral. Plus, always offer top-notch products and services that your customers will voluntarily want to talk about you to their friends in multiple formats. Remember - whether the discussion about you is negative or positive, it’s still earned media.

You therefore need to seek to control the story by sending out newsworthy press releases to the right contacts that will take ownership of your story and disseminate it to their audience. Provide excellent customer service, terrific products, second-to-none services and you can have some measure of control over the earned media that is out there about you.

Trends and Stats for Digital Magazines

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here are many different trends and stats available for digital magazine publishers. It’s important to keep up-to-date on these trends and statistics so that you can stay ahead of the game and publish the best magazine you’re capable of publishing for your audience. It’s clear that things are changing in the publishing world due to the easy entry into publishing through the advent of digital magazines and the different platforms to publish them.

  • Paper Is Old School – While you may consider offering print on demand, the fact is paper is less and less cool and more and more old school when it comes to magazines. There is basically no reason to publish paper magazines in the digital world today. You can get just as good results by publishing only online, especially if your distribution numbers are small. According to ZenithOptimedia Agency, print magazines will shrink by about 2 to 3 percent a year.
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    Longer Articles Work Well – Publishing longer, more in-depth articles in your magazine is a good idea. People like to take the time to read longer articles when they open up a magazine. Reading a magazine article is different from reading quick online content. You can include serious statistical pieces that go outside of the content you may normally put on your website or in newsletters.
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    Magazines Will Be More Interactive – Due to their digital nature, magazines can be more interactive than their paper counterparts. You can now include surveys, polls, videos, and audio into your digital magazine. What’s more, your subscribers will expect more interactive features in their digital publications.
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    Magazines Will Have Fewer Ads – Yet, you’ll make more money even though there will be fewer ads in each magazine. Customers are tired of flipping through page after page of ads. So, the price of each advertisement will be higher but there will be fewer spaces available. You’ll actually make more money with less work due to this, since you can also include more technologically advanced forms of ads.
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    Micro Magazines Will Become More Popular – This is where you come in. According to State of the Media, smaller more focused digital magazines will become more popular as time goes on. This is showing to be true, which is why small business owners should highly consider publishing a digital magazine for their audience as a way to increase brand awareness or another income stream.
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    Subscriptions are Easier Than Ever to Collect – Due to flattening ad revenue it’s important to consider earning through a subscription plus ad revenue model. Thankfully, due to excellent technology, you can break into the digital publishing subscription model really easily. Using software like Joomag can make it super simple.
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    Creating Serials Is Becoming Popular Again – In the old days of magazines and micro publishing books, creating stories and information that was told in serial format was popular. This encouraged customers to buy subscriptions and also repeat buying so that they could see what happened or get the rest of the story and information.
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    Multiple Revenue Streams Will Become More Popular – Ads, subscriptions, and micropayments will all be possible with digital magazines. An author can put a donate button right in their bio for a chance to collect donations or tips for their article. Having this option rather than upfront payment to authors might help you get more content for your magazine, because it’s more than likely you’ll be unable to create enough interesting well-crafted content on your own for a regular magazine.

Digital magazines are becoming more popular for formerly print magazines. Plus, the barriers to entry are so low that anyone can create and publish a digital magazine for any topic and niche that they desire. What’s clear is that there will be more to choose from for the audience, which means you’ll need to market harder than ever.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

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o many people have said they are going to leave Twitter, or not use Twitter, and that it’s just not relevant anymore for them. But, the truth is, it’s not Twitter that’s the problem, it’s the users that are the problem. There is too much automation. Remember, social media is for engagement, and people who use Twitter for that purpose see great success. It’s those who have resorted to too much automation that have problems.

Why Twitter Is Still Relevant and Useful

Twitter is still a formidable social media outlet that small businesses should continue to use for the near and far future. There are many reasons for that, such as:

  • Twitter is still informative – Compared to other social networks, it’s still easier to find information about groups, causes, and businesses via Twitter search. Hashtags make it easy to compile the information, and important people are still having important conversations on Twitter.
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    You can engage with anyone – Due to the way Twitter works, you can potentially connect with anyone whether you follow them or not, and vice versa. Due to the ease of sharing and the ease of tagging people, before you know it you could be in a conversation with someone famous or at least famous in your group.
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    It’s very responsive – Using Twitter on mobile devices is still easier than using other social media on mobile devices. There is still a lot you can’t do with mobile on Facebook that you can do with Twitter.
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    Search is easier – It’s so easy to filter out the things you don’t want to see. You can look at only tweets for a particular topic which makes finding trends super fast and easy. You can easily study your audience and potential audience on Twitter.

Due to these factors, it’s important for small businesses to realize that Twitter is still a useful tool for engagement, research, and promotion. You just have to do it right. If you are having issues with getting results from Twitter, you’re doing it wrong.

Don’t Pass Up Everyday Opportunities

Tweet about what you're doing right now, and ask your employees and your contractors to do this as well. Make it relevant to your audience. For instance, if you’re working on a new eBook, say so. “5000 words down on my new eBook!” is a great example of a tweet that will get attention of your audience, and likely some “congratulations tweets” too. What fabulous interaction, from just a simple update that you can capitalize on.

Your Twitter followers not only care about your day and what you’re doing - enough to read your tweets and correspond about them, they’ll also be happy if you share anything profound from other tweets of people who you follow. Sharing, commenting, and engaging are all important aspects of being on Twitter. Without those three things you won’t be successful. So, ditch the automation, and use Twitter for all it’s worth, because it is still very relevant in social media marketing today.

Tips for Publishing Your First Magazine

Tips for Publishing Your First Magazine

Before you publish your first digital magazine it’s important to understand what’s important about publishing a magazine. You can increase your audience, give more to your current audience, and find a new income stream via either subscriptions of the magazine or advertising revenue. Here are eight tips to get you started.

1. Start with Building a Potential Subscriber’s List – Before you consider producing a digital magazine it’s important that you have people who want the magazine. Start with building a mailing list or two using the categories that you plan to cover in the magazine to attract the subscribers. Try creating one free report for each category that you’ll have inside your magazine to attract the subscribers. This will give you a good idea of whether the categories you’ve chosen are what your audience wants to cover.

2. Understand What Your Audience Wants – If you don’t know who your audience is, it will be very difficult to know whether or not they even want a magazine, much less what they would want it to cover. Be sure to survey your audience, poll your audience and engage them on various topic ideas for your magazine.

3. Make Your Digital Magazine Available in Multiple Locations – Once published, put your digital magazine into several formats so that it is available on the different tools your audience uses to read publications. It should be available to download directly as well as have the ability to read via mobile device and PC.

4. Use Every Feature You Can – Your audience wants to see images, pictures, audio and other high-tech features in your digital magazine. Using a system that allows you to use all these types of features is what makes digital publications even more lucrative than print publications.

5. Use Super High Quality Images and Content – When you create a magazine the art is more important than ever, as is the content. Due to the way a digital magazine looks, your audience is expecting even higher quality work than they are used to seeing from you already. You’ll need to ramp up your work to a new level.

6. Archive Back Issues – For SEO purposes, be sure to archive back issues on your website. You can make them viewable for members and subscribers only, but having them there will enable subscribers to look back to previous issues which most people love to do. Having the titles searchable is always good for SEO.

7. Decide How You’ll Monetize Your Digital Magazine – It’s important to think about how you will earn money on your new digital magazine. There are a couple of ways that you can earn money, such as selling ad space and/or subscriptions to the magazine. If you are interested in spreading brand awareness, look into giving a free magazine and selling ads. If you are simply looking for another money-making opportunity, you can sell subscriptions and ads.

8. Market Your Digital Magazine – No one is going to find your digital magazine, no matter how many different newsstands it appears in online, unless you market it. You’ll need to promote it to your email lists, your website subscribers, via social media and more. You can even ask subscribers to share it.

By following these tips for publishing your first magazine, you’ll be super successful in your new venture. You’ll increase brand awareness, create awesome new content for your audience, and make more money doing it.

Tips to Manage the Business Registration Process

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anaging the business registration process the first time will seem unorganized. However, if you do one thing at a time and keep track of everything every year, it will get easier to accomplish and will really amount to little more than repeating what you did last year, writing a check, and mailing it in on time. Some places you can even complete the process online, saving even more time and effort.

  • Know Your Business Name (DBA) – What do you plan to name your business? Have you considered what the laws are in your area regarding filing a DBA or doing business as form to make your name legal?
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    Know What Business Entity You’ve Chosen – Research all the different entities and the laws surrounding each so that you can apply for and form the right type of business for what your goals are.
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    Register for an EIN First – You can get an EIN code prior to getting anything else done for your business other than knowing what you will name it and what business entity it will have. Remember, even if you have a home business, you still want an EIN if you live in the USA. This will protect your personal information from scammers.
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    Know Your NAICS Code – For opening a business in the USA, you’ll be asked from time to time what your NAICS and/or SIC codes are. This is the North American Industry Classification System and is often used by government entities to track and classify your business. You can go to the website to find out what your code is for your type of business.
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    Collect Proper Permissions from HOA – If you have a Homeowner’s Association, you’ll need to get permission from them in writing before applying for a business license. Your licensure department will have a form for them to fill out.
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    Collect Other Residential Approvals – In some cases the fire department will have to sign off on whether you can have the type of business you desire in your residence (or any location), and they’ll have different rules for different types of businesses.
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    Obtain Proper Licensure via State, City and County – Find out from any local business office such as SCORE or at your community college what type of licensure you’ll need to obtain. Go through the steps for each one, starting with the state and working your way down the chain.
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    Collect All Needed Data – Be sure to collect all the data you need in advance. You can often find the forms for each entity online so you’ll know what to look for in advance.
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    Have Your Important Documents Handy – Once you go through the entire process, make a separate folder for each entity so that you can keep track of all the information you need to provide, making it easier each year.
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    Make a Spreadsheet – If it helps, create a spreadsheet with all the information in it so that you can look at it in just one glance for any numbers you need or other information that you need.
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    Calendar Everything – Once you buy a license or get a permit, note on the permit when the next one is due and put it in your calendar with warnings in advance so that you don’t wait until the last minute to renew.

Don’t forget to enter the expense you have for any business license into your accounting system, as every penny is a complete write-off from the top of your income. By following the rules and ensuring your business is registered properly, you will not have any legal trouble down the pike that could cost you your entire business.

The Importance of Microtargeting Your Audience

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lmost everyone reading this has experienced microtargeting in the form of paid political “robo” calls, personal phone calls, and emails from political campaigns. This is simply taking the idea of the customer of one to new heights. While you may be bothered by the political phone calls, the truth is microtargeting works. If it did not work they would not spend billions on doing it. As a small business you can also take advantage of microtargeting, and you should.

No, you don’t need to make irritating calls at dinnertime, but you can use microtargeting in several ways as part of your overall online marketing campaigns. Probably one of the best known ways that you can engage in microtargeting is via Facebook Ads and Retargeting Ads. These types of ads are directed to you due to activity that you took, or due to the advertiser singling you out using your demographics.

Small Businesses Can Use Microtargeting Too

Your business can take advantage of microtargeting using your email marketing software too, if you send out a poll to your audience to collect more information. You can also look at their behavior to make some assumptions about future behavior. All microtargeting really is, is using the consumer’s behavior to predict future behavior, or their demographics to single them out for specific specials and sales.

Using the consumer data that you can gather to identify and influence smaller groups of people toward purchasing your products and using your services isn’t really anything new. What is new is the technology that makes this one of the most powerful forms of marketing the world has ever known. Microtargeting can improve your sales dramatically, and is not something that you should avoid.

  • Give away a white paper – You can collect more data on your customers by giving away something of value, in exchange for them answering a very short, no more than five question survey that will give more insight into their needs, behaviors, or even buying responsibility.
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    Personalization – This is a way that you are already microtargeting, if you’re using your email mailing software properly. You know your customer’s name, and you use it. You can use the same software to personalize even more if you send out surveys to get more information from your current readers and clients. If you act in small doses, they are more likely to give you the information you need.
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    Facebook Ads – You can use Facebook and their vast amount of information on their members to microtarget specific demographics. Try doing it for a campaign and see whether or not it works well for your needs. For example, if you want to teach mothers how to earn money from home, you’ll send your ad out only to mothers who stay at home, or perhaps even mothers who work outside the home.
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    LinkedIn – If you have your own group on LinkedIn, you can engage in microtargeting by creating an ad campaign that targets only members of the group. This is a great way to market a new product or service just to your group of connections. (By the way, you can also do this on Facebook.)

 Remember, if it’s good enough for political campaigns, and by the way, Visa (who also microtargets consumers), then it’s good enough for you. Imagine bringing back visitors who came to your site with an appropriate Facebook Ad, or sending ads only to a select group of people who are likely to respond positively, without wasting money on people who won’t.

The Best Times of the Year for Email Marketing

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eople often ask about what is the best time of year for email marketing. However, the answer is never what they expect because like most things marketing, the answer completely depends on the products and/or services you’re promoting plus your audience. It may get old hearing that answer – but the fact is, your audience and your product matters greatly.

  • Off-Time Sales – If you have a shop that is mostly frequented in the summertime, then you want to create an email series for the off time. An example often used is the tanning shop. Sending out email marketing campaigns to tanners during the winter can help bring those tanners back during the off time so they don’t wait for spring break to start their tans.
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    In Advance of a Holiday – Don’t wait until the month of the holiday to start your email marketing for a sale or event during that holiday. You want to work toward the excitement over about a 90-day period. So get your auto series completed to start marketing 90 days prior to the event, whatever it is, for the very best results.
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    Your Audience’s Schedule – You are the only one who knows your audience inside and out. You know their “on” times and their “off” times. Ensure that you are promoting hard during their off times, as well as promoting more carefully during the times they typically engage more so that you don’t turn them off.
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    Understand the Holidays – Each audience celebrates and likes different holidays than another audience. Know which ones your audience loves. If you have to, send out a survey to find out which are important to them so that you can arrange to have sales and other celebratory events during these special times for your audience.
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    Little-Known Holidays – Sometimes it’s fun to have a sale during a little-known holiday event. You can educate your audience on something new at the same time as offering a special during that time. Creating an email series around that one event will educate, inform, and bring new life to your email marketing.
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    All Year Long – The most successful email marketing never stops. It occurs all year long but takes into consideration the calendar, your audience’s beliefs, desires, needs, and schedules. There is a saying that works well in this case and it’s “always be marketing.” Never stop, any time of the year. The great thing about email marketing is that it can work even while you’re on vacation. With proper planning, it never stops.
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    Test Your Market – To know when the best times of year to send email marketing messages to your audience, it’s important to conduct tests. After sending marketing messages for an entire year to your audience you can use the data collected to see, at least for that year and your audience, what time of the year most of the emails were opened and when most of the click throughs and purchasing happened. Use that as your guide for the future.
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    Don’t Give Up on Off Times – Even if you notice a pattern for when your audience is reading, opening and responding to your emails, it doesn’t mean that you should give up during the “off” times. Instead, you'll want to redouble your efforts during these times. Mix up your subject lines, get more direct, and try harder.

In effect, the best time of year to send your email marketing messages to your audience is really all year long. But, as with most industries, there will be off times for opening and following through of your email marketing messages. Those are the times you should work even harder to get more sales and up your email marketing exponentially to get the results you want.

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